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Minor minutes: Which Liga MX teams are playing the kids

Only one team has already met the Liga MX requirements for menores this season.

Pumas UNAM v America - Torneo Clausura 2019 Liga MX Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images

Almost halfway through the Liga MX season, and only one club has hit the 1,000 minute threshold for participation by menores (minors) so far. In 2019, clubs must hit the 1,000 minute threshold or face a loss of three points in the standings (which extends to the Tabla de Cociente or relegation table).

A club can count 100% of the minutes by players born on January 1, 1998 or after and 50% of the minutes from players born in 1997. These minutes have to come in first team matches in Liga MX play, or can be picked up in playing for the Mexican National Team as long as they play 50 minutes or more in a match. Clubs can also only get 270 minutes per match from their players, so running out a full eleven of U20s in the last week of the season won’t cut it.

Lobos BUAP has already eclipsed the 1,000 minute mark thanks to five players: Aldo Cruz (1997), Rafael Durán (1997), Oscar Macías (1998), José Esquivel (1998), and Edson Torres (1998), with the 21 year old Esquivel amassing 671 minutes in Lobos’ first eight games. With Lobos performing better than expected, they could be perhaps seen as a model on how to play the menores while still performing well.

Except that’s not the case.

Unfortunately there’s no correlation between the amount of minutes a club gives menores and their standing in the table one way or the other. Lobos has 10 points on the season, which is 12th in the table. Tigres sits atop the points table but 10th in minutes for menores.

Still, the rules are the rules and clubs are expected to meet them or face sanctioning. Pumas has just 2.5 minutes to make up, and with Alan Mozo (1997) a first-choice starter at right back and Idekel Domínguez (2000) emerging at left back they should easily make this in the next match. Monterrey is also only 45.5 minutes from qualifying, thanks to copious minutes being given to midfielders Carlos Rodríguez (1997) and Jonathan Gonzalez (1999) as well as center back César Montes (1997).

At the other end of the spectrum, Querétaro has only 385.5 minutes played thanks mostly to Marcel Ruíz’ (2000) 305 minutes over five games. Necaxa has only 379 minutes played, with left back Cristian Calderón responsible for 315 of those minutes. And while he may be known for playing and developing youth, Tijuana’s Oscar Pareja hasn’t used his youth very much this season. Xolos have only used Jesús Angulo (1997), Antonio Nava (1999), and Daniel López (2000) for a total of 189.5 minutes.

The good news is that there’s still nine weeks of soccer left to play, and even the teams in the bottom of the list can still make up ground with some strategic moves. For instance Tijuana should get minutes from Angulo with Fabián Castillo injured, and López seems to be the first choice to come on in relief for Xolos’ forwards. Calderón is a first-choice starter for Necaxa, as is Ruíz for Querétaro. Tijuana also has a total of nine players on the first team roster that count toward the minutes quota, Querétaro has eight, and Necaxa has six - and these numbers don’t include the Sub20s, Sub17s, Sub15s, etc. that could be called upon to play - just not all at once in the last game.

Tabla de Menores Clausura 2019 Jornada 8

Club Minutes played
Club Minutes played
Lobos BUAP 1318
Universidad Nacional 997.5
Rayados de Monterrey 954.5
Santos Laguna 812
América 788.5
Guadalajara 787.5
Cruz Azul 774
Tiburones Rojos de Veracruz 768
Puebla F.C. 739
Tigres de la U.A.N.L. 660
León 595
Pachuca 504.5
Monarcas Morelia 489
Toluca 462
Atlas 454
Gallos Blancos de Querétaro 385.5
Necaxa 379
Club Tijuana 189.5
Liga Bancomer MX